Midwest Drought Over, For Now

Posted on: 5:39 pm, March 18, 2013, by

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Winter weather keeps hanging on and the rain, sleet and snow are the perfect recipe for some folks in the St. Louis area. Drought conditions in the Midwest are finally easing and conditions here are looking good.

Marty Hettel works with AEP River Operations, a company that moves barges and tows full of products like grain up and down the river.  He said, “As far as river conditions are today were in good shape.”

Just two months ago, he feared transportation would close down on the Mississippi.  The river level is up. Marty Hettel said, “There`s no doubt what the Corp did with their contractors helped us, Mother Nature helped us too.”

The Army Corp of Engineers cleared rock formations blocking river traffic and Mother Nature add precipitation.  Early this year barge companies like AEP had a tough time. Hettel said, “We were operating at less than 50 percent of our capacity.”

Ed Keeven owns Emerald Turn Farms, he`s hopeful about the future, “Eternally optimistic I feel like we`re going to have a good year.”

The drought cut his sales in half last summer at his sod business. It was the worst year in 3 decades.  Recent rains are improving conditions and construction crews nearby are building new homes again.

Keeven said, “Residential is starting to pick up and that`s great. That segment of the sod industry business has been really, really down and that`s finally starting to pick up.”

Farmers and tow companies both depend on the weather.  Another hot dry summer could turn their optimism to worry very quickly.